19 Ways Americans Are Amazing At Responding To Disasters

The week of April 15, 2013 was a difficult one for America. Three were killed and hundreds injured in a terrorist attack at one of the country’s iconic sporting events. Envelopes containing a deadly poison were sent to the President and a Senator. And West, Texas was the site of a tragic fertiliser explosion which killed 15 people, with 60 still missing. 

We were hit hard last week. But we’re not out. Throughout history, tragedy and disaster have brought out the best in Americans. We come back stronger than before; that’s the spirit of the American people in the face of disaster. It’s worth remembering how we made it through tough times in the past as we work to move past the events of last week.  

We never give up trying to save people.

Galveston hurricane

A rescue party in the aftermath of the 1900 Galveston hurricane. 

We find a way through the toughest times.

CCC Construction

During the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps helped families survive by giving young men jobs building public works projects we use to this day. 

We unite.

Listening to FDR Speech

Members of the U.S. Navy listening to FDR’s “Infamy speech.” In the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the speech, Americans rushed to recruiting offices. 

We are brave.

JFK Jr. Salute Father's Funeral

John F. Kennedy Jr. saluting his father’s coffin during his state funeral. 

We turn something tragic into something historic.

Lyndon Johnson Civil Rights

Outrage and grief over a tragic church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama built support for the civil rights movement, and the Civil Rights Act was signed into law less than a year later. 

We take things into our own hands.

Vietnam Demonstration

We pick ourselves up and move forward.

Reagan challenger memorial

Ronald Reagan gave what’s regarded as one of the greatest speeches of all time in the aftermath of the Challenger disaster, cancelling his state of the union address. 

From his eulogy for the astronauts: 

“Sometimes, when we reach for the stars, we fall short. But we must pick ourselves up again and press on despite the pain.”

We risk our lives to help others.

Oklahoma Firefighters

Firefighters leading a rescue effort in the aftermath of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombings.

We carry each other to help.

Columbine help

Unidentified girls carrying a classmate to the library where students were evacuated during the Columbine massacre. 

We sacrifice.

FDNY 9/11

New York firefighters heading towards Ground Zero on September 11, 2001. 

We never forget.


FEMA workers, looking at the wreckage at Ground Zero in the aftermath of the attack. 

We comfort each other.

hurricane katrina

One of the many rescue teams that worked in New Orleans to get residents to safety following hurricane Katrina. 

We fight our way back to normal.

BP Cleanup Crew 9

Workers begin the long effort to clean up the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. 

We overcome huge odds to recover, and don’t stop there. 

barack obama gabrielle giffords

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords at the 2012 State of the Union address, around a year after she was shot in the head in a grocery store parking lot while holding a meet and greet with constituents in Tuscon, Ariz.  

We find a way to help.

volunteer, help, food, distribution, fema, federal emergency management agency, rockaway park, rockaway beach, far rockaway, new york city, queens, sandy, relief, recovery, hurricane, frankenstorm, damage, destruction, nyc, bi, dng, nov 2012

Volunteers in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

We put aside our differences.

christie obama sandy

We make impossibly brave choices without stopping to think. 

Mourners Leave Sandy Hook Jack Pinto

Mourners leave the funeral of Jack Pinto, age 6. Heroic actions by staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School helped save others, at the cost of their own lives. 

We come together as a community.

We become heroes.

Carlos Arredondo after Boston Marathon bombing

Carlos Arredondo, a Costa Rican immigrant who lost a son in Iraq, became an iconic symbol of the response to the Boston marathon bombings after a widely-circulated photo showed him helping apply a tourniquet to victim Jeff Bauman’s leg and rushing him to safety. 

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.